Forested Watersheds

This is an excerpt from my photo journal after an annual camping and fly fishing trip in the mountains of northern Pennsylvania in late May and early June.

A seven mile descent into a narrow stream valley typifies the terrain and landscape of the Allegheny Plateau. This particular watershed of about 50 square miles is a tiny window into a much larger, mostly forested region of over two million acres of public land. Advocates of eco-tourism call it “Pennsylvania Wilds”. Decades of camping, fly fishing, sightseeing and research in PA Wilds have given me a foundation and perspective for virtually all matters of conservation and environmental health. That will no doubt be evident in this post.


The sweltering heat wave blanketing much of the U.S. and the latest issue of Nature Conservancy magazine (“Blue Revolution: Rethinking Water on a Thirsty Planet”; Summer 2017) led me to focus on one aspect of my annual trip that is becoming more and more precious with the passage of time: the clean, cold surface waters of forested watersheds.

Upon our arrival, we were not surprised to see that weeks of cool, rainy weather had resulted in water levels a foot above normal. But, the turbulent waters were nearly free of sediment due to the absence of development and continuous forest cover.


Small, freestone mountain streams recovered quickly and were well on their way to “normal” after just two days without rain – another wonderful feature of a pristine watershed.


Mayfly activity … as well as dry fly fishing … followed a more predictable pattern when temperatures rose and water levels receded.


A Green Drake mayfly spinner (Coffin Fly)

Spring seeps trickling over exposed rock enhanced the visual experience and supported lush growth of ferns and wild flowers.




Virginia Waterleaf thriving in the moist, shady microsite of a spring seep

“Hydrologists estimate that if all the water on Earth filled a 5-gallon bucket, just one drop of it would represent the clean, fresh water accessible to humans.” – Nature Conservancy magazine, Summer 2017.


Photos by NB Hunter. ©All Rights Reserved.






7 thoughts on “Forested Watersheds

  1. We’re doing whatever we can to preserve our watersheds here in our corner of the Oregon Coast. Coincidentally, we just enjoyed a hike near a town named Allegany. A deeply rutted road led us to an incredible little nature preserve featuring two marvelous water falls. I just posted some of the lush green we found there. The waterfalls will be posted when I can find a spare moment. We just won a great victory in saving the Elliott Forest very close to this site from more clear cutting. There is a stream not far from where we plan to settle that had an incredible man leading the fight to preserve the land bordering Elk Creek. The difference in the vegetation and the water quality is absolutely evident when comparing the beautiful color of the water to another stream a few miles south after or during a storm.

  2. Ahh, if only there were many more wild undisturbed places. So glad to hear about Gunta’s area in Oregon. Nick, you are blessed to have spent so many years visiting the PA Wilds annually. Thanks for the pics and blog notes.

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